3 Success Tips I Learned From a Video Game

One of my guilty pleasures is gaming.  From the old school Sega Genesis games that came in bulky cartridges, to real-time multiplayer online games like League of Legends, to (amazing!) video games like those of the Bioshock series, I really can’t get enough of the awesome fantasy worlds that these games present.  The artistry and amount of work that goes into a lot of these games is literally astounding, and for my current gaming fixation – ‘Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’ – the proof is clearly in the almost obsessive attention to detail.  It is no wonder that in this particular game, which in so many ways reflects the world we live in, I managed to pick out a couple awesome tips for real-world success.

Skills are Gained Incrementally

It should have come as no surprise to me that in a game like Oblivion, where not only can your character learns numerous combative skills, but social skills. The social skills include things such as (no joke here) getting people to like you and learning how to barter; one might find a couple great success tips to use back in the real world.

The first wonderful piece of advice I took from this game is that one must keep in mind that skills are gained incrementally.  Put more simply, if you’re not doing absolutely amazing at something – say, watercolor painting – when you first give it a try, that does not mean you’re no good at it.  What it does mean, is that you’ve started a learning process, one that can and will be built upon should you continue to practice techniques and expose yourself to the process of painting itself.

Remembering that skills are abilities which are gained incrementally certainly applies in the workplace as well. From reviewing what one did wrong in a job interview, to building upon what went right with your presentation in a board meeting, practice leads to – if not perfection – a stronger understanding in whatever you are trying to learn.

And keeping that in mind is important for someone like me who is often perfectionist to a fault.  So, whether I am working on creative writing projects or trying to increase my Wood Elf’s Alchemy skill, I can rest easy knowing that just because I didn’t succeed at first does not mean that I have failed.

Opportunity is EVERYWHERE

The beauty of the Elder Scrolls series – especially in its later installments – lies in the fact that you can interact with nearly everything.  Behind literally every door is the possibility of finding gold, increasing your fighting skills, and stumbling upon new missions, whether it be rescuing a fair Lizard maiden from a crazed cult of necromancers or delivering extremely rare bottles of wine to an obsessed innkeeper for a reward.

Many times, things to do in my current focus – Oblivion – can just fall in your lap when a character comes up to talk to you.  Other times it may be an item you find, a scene that you witness, or your own initiative in talking to someone for a potential mission.  In the game, one can simply do the main storyline without deviation – or even more peculiarly, ride around on a horse the whole time – but the main takeaway from this aspect of Oblivion is that opportunities surround us as a general rule.

Sometimes it is our own curiosity that spurs it (remember when my curiosity led me into my local city hall and on the path to an internship with the City Manager?), and sometimes the door of opportunity is opened by the environment and people around you.  It is just a matter of whether we are aware enough to see the possibilities we sift through every day without a thought and – in cases where luck doesn’t just cause opportunities to fall into our lap – whether we can be bold enough to pursue them.

The World Is Mesmerizing

A lot of people will speak on the beauty of the worlds created by game designers, and when it comes to the Elder Scrolls saga, that intricacy is often the first thing people refer to.  The world of the Elder Scrolls saga is extremely detailed; some even find it too detailed, as it does tend to distract from the main storyline.

But more importantly – for our purposes, anyway – is the realization that the worlds created in any video game are not only born of imagination and creativity, but an innate wonder about the real world around us.

It was easiest for me to figure this out while playing Oblivion just because there are so many elements in the game that one can actually find in real life; much of the flora and fauna were taken straight out of a farmers’ almanac.  And at some point in the time I spent just tooling around in the game, I stopped and thought about just how insanely big the real world we live in is.

Thus, the third success tip I learned from playing my video game is to recognize that the world we live in is a beautiful, complex, impossibly huge place.  There are always things to learn, problems to solve, people to help, places to explore, and probably a thousand other things I haven’t even thought of yet.  Exploring your surroundings, learning about people different from you, and being able to make new connections by indulging the sense of wonder we – or at least I – tend to reserve for fictional places (read: Hogwarts) is what really allows us to grow our résumés and ourselves as well-rounded individuals.



Photo credit: Dave See

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Catherine L. Williams

Catherine L. Williams is a graduate student in Political Science at UCLA. She loves to write and perform her poetry, and has a love-hate relationship with pie. Follow her on Instagram at @msblackcat93!

  • http://www.derby-cleaning.co.uk Susan White

    Your post surprised me a lot, because I`ve never thought that video games could be something good for my kids or my husband. They drive me crazy every time when I see full dishes on the table and no one there because there is not way to stop playing before to finish the level.

    Thanks for sharing these things, I`ll read your post to my family and hope it will help them.

    Keep writing and have a great weekend.

    Susan White from End of tenancy cleaners Derby